Transport minister Dr Harrison Mwakyembe addresses members of Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Looking on are TFFA president Stephen Ngatunga (L) and vice president Edward Urio.(Photo: Tryphone Mweji)
Transport minister Dr Harrison Mwakyembe has given a three-week ultimatum to clearing and forwarding agents with a hand in theft of cargo at Dar es Salaam port to reform or risk serious consequences.
He said the agents have been colluding with thieves in forging Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) receipts in order to steal cargo from the port.
Dr Mwakyembe issued the order yesterday in Dar es Salaam in a meeting with heads of clearing and forwarding agents in the country.
He said he has a list of dishonest clearing and forwarding agents who collude with groups of thieves in stealing customers’ cargos and forging receipts at the port.
He said the illegal acts by fraudulent agents have ruined the status of the Dar es Salaam port and the country at large calling for stringent actions to be taken to ensure that the port is safe for customers.
“Many customers from within and outside the country have lost trust on the custodians of their cargos and have instead decided to use other ports overpassing the Dar es Salaam Port and this can result into losing revenues,” Dr Mwakyembe said.
However, Mwakyembe said that the ministry is planning to establish an organ which will represent the clearing and forwarding sector.
He said the absence of such an organ has spurred the mushrooming of agents including fraudulent ones.
He added that the loopholes at the port have planted the idea into people’s heads that the port is a place that can be used for private gains even by establishing fraudulent clearing and forwarding agencies with thieves in them.
He said that even though there have been a lot of agents involved in the clearing and forwarding of cargo at the port while efficiency has remained poor saying the agencies’ workers do not see the importance of their work.
He asked the agents which are not involved in the illegal acts to cooperation with the government to restore the status of the port for the benefit of the entire nation.
Speaking at the meeting some agents complained on the high charges imposed in obtaining identity cards whereby they required to have four IDs for port operations.
They claimed that a single person is required to spend 64,000/- for the four cards—Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), and the Tanzania International Container Terminal Services Limited (TICTS) besides one for their respective company.
Reacting to the claims the minister said that the government will work on the matters particularly on why the TPA charges 30,000/- for a single identity card while TRA charges only 8,000/-for the same type of ID.
He said that it was a shame to see workers at the port wearing more than one ID adding that they were supposed to have computerised the IDs to match with the advancement of technology.
For his part, Otieno Igogo, an agent commented said the big agents have been segregating the small ones by influencing the government to remove the latter on reasons that the agencies are involved in thefts at the port.
He said the powerfully agents want to dominate all services at the port.
He asked the government to ensure that it creates a fair competitive environment and extend the life span of the licenses of the agencies from one year as the time limits them to secure loans from financial institutions.
Moreover, the agents appointed five representatives whom will officially meet with the minister to discuss some issues that could not be discussed in the yesterday meeting due to time constraints.